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Mixed-ward “U-turn” criticised


29 January, 2008  

A patients group has accused the Government of making a U-turn over proposals for single sex wards in hospitals after a minister said they were not practical.

Campaigners said that health minister Lord Darzi of Denham seemed to backtrack on Labour’s 1997 manifesto promise to “work towards the elimination of mixed-sex wards”.

The criticism came after Lord Darzi told peers that the Government was committed to providing single sex accommodation in hospitals, but not single sex wards.

“Our guidance requires the provision of single sex accommodation, not wards,” he said.

“This may mean single rooms or single sex bays within a mixed ward as well as single sex wards.”

But the Patients Association accused the Government of “throwing in the towel” on their manifesto pledge.

Spokeswoman Katherine Murphy said: “The Government has taken a U-turn on their promise to eliminate mixed-sex wards.

“Ten years ago patients were told it would be possible, and it was a manifesto commitment.

“Now the ground rules may be changing but the problem is still there for patients of all ages who ask for nothing more than a safe NHS where ‘dignity and respect is at the heart’ – to quote Lord Darzi himself.

“Patients have no guarantee 10 years on that anyone will do anything to achieve this. This is throwing in the towel.”

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The Patients Association